In a pitcher’s duel, Michigan State got a complete-game effort from sophomore McKenna Gregory, but fell short in a 3-2 decision against Ohio State on Saturday.
Gregory recorded her first career seven-inning complete game, scattering eight base hits and striking out five. She stranded 12 Buckeye runners, including three innings where she left the bases loaded.
The Spartans got a 2-for-4 effort from freshman MacKenzie Meech, who had RBI singles in the first and fifth innings. Her second RBI single gave MSU its first lead of the day, but the visitors countered with two runs in the sixth on a double by Emily Clark. Lilli Piper accounted for the other Buckeye run, a solo homer in the top of the first inning.
Lauren Rice started the game and went four innings walking three and scattering five hits and allowing both MSU runs. Kat Duval pitched a third of an inning before OSU brought on ace Morgan Ray, who earned the win after 2.2 innings of relief in which she struck out four.
The Spartans and Ohio State conclude their three-game Big Ten series on Sunday afternoon, when first pitch between the teams is at 1pm. Senior Kaitlyn Eveland will be honored with her Senior Day before the game.
• McKenna Gregory tossed her first career complete game, the longest outing of her career. She struck out five and walked seven (two intentionally).
• MacKenzie Meech was 2-for-4 with a pair of RBI
• Laney Joyner and Charla Echols were both 1-for-2 with a walk.
STATS AND STORYLINES
• Ohio State got on the board in the first inning when Lilli Piper hit a one-out homer, and Emily Clark singled and Kallie Boren followed with a walk to put two on. McKenna Gregory got the second out on a fielder’s choice, but then walked Niki Carver to load the bases. Gregory worked out of the jam with a ground ball to third for the final out of the inning.
• The Spartan offense was productive once again in the first inning, as Charla Echols jacked a double to left center and came around to score on a MacKenzie Meech single up the middle to tie the game at 1-1.
• In the second, Claire Nicholson led off with a double to right center, but Gregory came right back with a strikeout of Sansom and a ground ball for two outs. The Spartans intentionally walked the next two batters (Piper and Clark) to load the bases, and Gregory struck out Boren to leave the bases loaded for the second straight inning.
• The Buckeyes threatened again in the top of the third, getting runners to second and third. With two outs, Gregory had Samson in a pitcher’s count, and struck her out to get out of the frame with no damage. In the fourth, Gregory picked up two quick outs – a line ball to left and a strikeout of Piper, but them walked Clark and hit Boren to put two on the basepaths. That left things to Ashley Prange, who went full count before drawing a walk. Niki Carver hit a chopper back to the circle for a routine out to once again strand three.
• In the home half of the fourth, Ebonee Echols led off with a walk, and Caitie Ladd singled deep into the hole at short for an infield single to give MSU two baserunners with no outs. Rice walked Eveland to load the bases, but a ground ball led to a double play, and Rice got a ground ball back to the circle to end the inning.
• In the home half of the fifth, Laney Joyner led off with a first-pitch single up the middle, and the Buckeyes went to the bullpen, bringing on senior Kat Duvall in relief. A wild pitch moved Joyner to second, and then she went to third on a groundout by Melanie Baccay. Duvall walked Charla Echols on five pitches to get to Meech, who put a bloop single into shallow right to plate Joyner for a 2-1 lead. That signaled the end of Duvall’s outing, and the Buckeyes brought on Morgan Ray, who won Friday’s game in relief. She walked Ebonee Echols to load the bases with one out, but then struck out Caitie Ladd and got a runner coming home on a wild pitch to end the inning.
• The Buckeyes brought the top of the lineup to the plate in the top of the sixth, and Betschel led it off with a single up the middle, and Piper singled up the right field line to move Betschel to third. Emily Clark followed with a would-be triple, but she overslid third and was tagged out. Her hit, however, did bring home two runs to give Ohio State a 3-2 lead. Boren lined out to left and Prange to center to end the inning.
• A one-out double by pinch hitter Megan McMenemy gave the visitors a baserunner in the top of the seventh, and she stole third with two outs on the board after Nicholson popped up. Gregory got Samson swinging to end the inning with the runner on third to preserve the one-run deficit.
• The Spartans got a baserunner when Laney Joyner drew a leadoff walk in the home half of the seventh, but Ray recorded a pair of strikeouts and left fielder Betschel made a sliding grab on what looked like a base hit for Charla Echols to preserve the win.